Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Oak Lodge, Richmond

Oak Lodge was built by Henry Buscombe, the younger brother of James Kestall Buscome who was responsible for the building of several prominent Richmond landmarks, including Prospect House & the Old Post Office. Henry had joined his brother in Van Diemen's Land in October 1830. By March 1831, he had applied for a first class allotment of land in Richmond in the area where Oak Lodge now stands. According to his application, Buscombe intended to erect a stone or brick dwelling house of not less than 50 feet deep, to have the property fenced with a good post & rail fence and to make a series of other suitable improvements to the land. The application was subsequently approved.

The house was probably built between 1831 & 1842 as a building appears in its location in a survey of Richmond undertaken in 1842. In the census of 1842, Buscombe claimed the building had been completed and were inhabited with two residents and two servants.

In 1843, Buscombe sold the property to Captain James Richard Booth, who was the brother of the former commandant of the Port Arthur convict settlement, Charles O'Hara Booth. The House was referred to locally as the "Commandants House" due to this connection. Booth, however, named the property "Basing Lodge" after the family residence in Basingstoke, Southampton. The property was only named "Oak Lodge" following Booth's departure in 1846 when he returned to England and Basing Lodge was leased out.

In June 1852, the property was advertised for sale, at which time it was being leased to the Rev. W. Tancred. The description of the property in the advertisement makes for very interesting reading. "That commodious family residence on the corner of Blair & Bridge Streets....These substantial premises are newly built, and having been intended for the residence of the proprietor (Captain Booth R.N) every convenience is attached and no expense has been spared in making them complete in every respect. The house, which is two stories high, comprises fourteen rooms with six on the ground floor, with capital cellars under, five bedrooms on the second and three spacious servants rooms above" Given the five different levels comprising Oak Lodge, it is quite possible that Booth had added substantially to Buscombe's earlier construction.

In 1855, Oak Lodge became the home of Rev David Galer of St Luke's Church, Richmond. The church, at the time, had no purpose built rectory for the accommodation of the Reverend. Rev Galer lived in the residence for nearly twenty years until he put the property on the market. The property wasnt sold until 1880 when William Stevens, a schoolmaster of Richmond, and Mary Bedgood (a widow and presumably Steven's sister) purchased the house and ultimately resided in Oak Lodge until 1909. In May 1909 Oak Lodge was conveyed from Mary Bedgood to Arthur Ogilvy of Richmond.

Ogilvy did not live in the house, instead renting it out to Dr William Clark, the towns noted American born Doctor. Dr Clark remained the tenant throughout the period through to 1950. There had been a number of owners during this period including James Montegu Butler, a solicitor who purchased the property in 1940. Dr Clark had left the USA in 1891 for Australia. before settling in Richmond, he had practised in Launceston, Hobart and the Huon region. He lived and worked at Oak Lodge from 1909 until the late 1940's.

The final owners of Oak Lodge, the Horsfall sisters purchased the property from Butler in 1962. Miss Murel Horsfall ultimately gave the house and much of its contents to the National Trust in 1998. The two most significant trees on the property are the two magnificent English Oak trees in the front of the house, which gives Oak Lodge its name. Oak Lodge has been used as a rectory, a school, a doctors surgery and a family home.

Oak Lodge is still owned by the National Trust (Tasmania) and is operated and maintained by the volunteers of the Coal River Valley Historical Society Inc. The society has developed a number of wonderful displays within the different rooms of the house and the volunteers have done a wonderful job maintaining the house as a museum and wonderful example of a bygone era in the Richmond region.

You can visit this National Trust-listed property to gain insight into early colonial life, explore the well-preserved rooms and stroll in the original nineteenth century garden. Oak Lodge is open daily (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday) from 11:30am until 3:30pm. Entry is $4 per adult & $1 per child and is free to National Trust members.

Main Text & Information Source - 
Oak Lodge Information brochure (Produced by The Coal River Valley Historical Society)
Oak Lodge - Saving Oak Lodge
Coal River Valley Historical Society

Information updated 5th October 2014. Thank you to Neville Mendham for updated information.